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“Students will create original content that will be sent to a Trib Total Media editor for review and changes. The Trib’s software will track the changes so educators at Point Park can help the students learn and refine their journalism skills.”

Bernie Ankney, School of Communication dean

Point Park University and Trib Total Media are partnering on a program in which students will generate original journalism for the Trib’s new Downtown Pittsburgh news site.

The site itself is a creation of the Trib and MeSearch, and is part of the Trib’s Neighborhood News Network, which includes 35 hyperlocal news websites across Southwestern Pennsylvania. These sites incorporate technology that brings in content about each neighborhood and allows citizens to share their own local stories directly to the internet.

Through this pilot program, students from Point Park’s School of Communication and its Point Park News Service will provide original stories, photographs, videos, podcasts and more specifically for the Downtown Pittsburgh site. The content will also be generally available throughout the news network.

“Students will create original content that will be sent to a Trib Total Media editor for review and changes,” said Bernie Ankney, School of Communication dean. “The Trib’s software will track the changes so educators at Point Park can help the students learn and refine their journalism skills.”

Erin Yudt, a junior majoring in journalism and minoring in psychology, writes for the Point Park News Service as well as the school’s student-run newspaper, The Globe. She is excited by the partnership and the opportunities it will provide.

“We hope this will bring more attention to the amazing work students do and lead to greater involvement,” said Yudt. “It’s a fantastic way to get professional experience and I can’t wait to see where this takes us.”

Joe Lawrence, who heads investments at the Trib and is the CEO of MeSearch, wants the partnership to raise awareness of the unique features of the Neighborhood News Network.

“The community contributor and trusted contributor provide opportunities to assist communities with sharing their own stories,” Lawrence said.

“At the same time, we are looking forward to the partnership with Point Park students providing content from a fresh perspective and appealing to a wider generational audience,” said Jennifer Bertetto, president and CEO of the Trib.

The Point Park News Service was founded with the Trib in 2005 as a way for students to publish original reporting and share it with the public. Hundreds of stories from the news service have appeared across the Trib’s publications, through The Associated Press and in numerous local outlets, including the Pittsburgh City Paper and the New Pittsburgh Courier.

Andrew Conte, director of the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park and previously an award-winning investigative reporter for the Trib, believes the partnership is reflective of a continual evolution in journalism.

“Across the United States, more and more communities have been left with little to no original news coverage as daily newspapers continue to close-up shop. We’ve seen what effect that has on communities,” Conte said. “We’re pleased to be working with the Trib on finding innovative ways to make sure no places are left behind.”

The CMI developed the McKeesport Community Newsroom in 2019 to support citizen journalism and storytelling by Mon Valley residents after losing their daily newspaper in 2015. With Pulitzer-Prize winner Martha Rial as the program director, the newsroom has worked with Mon Valley residents of all ages and integrated itself into the community. Its Tube City Writers group recently published “The Corona Diaries,” a collection of stories about navigating the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new partnership hopes to eventually empower more residents of Southwestern Pennsylvania and beyond to contribute content to the Neighborhood News Network.

For Conte, seeing daily newspapers shutter around the country has been a point of serious concern for a long time. It was that concern that led to the McKeesport Community Newsroom, as well as the institution of the Doris O’Donnell Innovations in Investigative Journalism Fellowship, with support from the Allegheny Foundation. His book, “Death of the Daily News: How Citizen Gatekeepers Can Save Local Journalism,” was released in September and looks at the fraught future of local journalism.

“Journalism is changing and evolving at an extremely rapid pace right now, and the uncertainty overshadowing daily newspapers is causing a ripple effect that will be felt for years,” Conte said. “It’s critical that we encourage young people interested in journalism and prepare them to navigate that bold new world. This partnership with the Trib is another great way for us to do that.”

More About: School of Communication, Point Park News Service, Downtown Pittsburgh, Center for Media Innovation, journalism